When Emma Lazarus wrote her famous line in 1883, “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” there was no Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers and government-run shelters. Those who came knew they were on their own. Now they arrive with their hands out.
A country can have open borders or a generous social safety net, but not both. President Joe Biden is the poster boy for that mistake, and cities across the U.S. are paying the price.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has warned that the cost of sheltering, feeding and providing health care and other services to the deluge of migrants will “destroy” the city. Yet Adams returned empty-handed from a visit with Biden’s staff on Dec. 8 to seek federal help. For the second time, New Yorkers are being told by a U.S. president, in so many words, to “drop dead.”
Biden is also turning his back on Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and other cities beleaguered by the busloads of destitute migrants from the southern border. Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez says in the black community there is “no longer feeling the love from Uncle Joe,” as Biden leaves the city to struggle alone with the cost of feeding and sheltering migrants.
Windy City Democrats, outraged by the burden thrust on them, are vowing to disrupt the Democratic National Convention next summer and make their voices heard.
Americans everywhere feel the same. Charity is supposed to begin at home. Chicagoans want to take care of their own first, including the 68,000 locals who are homeless.
Immigration is spiking to all-time highs, exceeding even the wave of newcomers from Europe in the late 19th century, when Lazarus wrote her poem.
About half the spike is due to Biden’s open-border policies. A record 12,000 broke through the southern border last Tuesday, the biggest one-day surge ever.
Immigration per se is not the problem. The U.S. economy needs more workers. With the birthrate declining and baby boomers retiring, the U.S. has a people-shortage problem that can only be solved by immigration.
But Biden is welcoming destitute migrants, instead of newcomers who are educated, have job skills to succeed in today’s economy, speak English and arrive ready to provide for their families.
Biden’s open border means anyone who wades across the Rio Grande gets in. Biden’s legal immigration policy — introduced into the Senate in 2021 — also prioritizes everything but economic self-sufficiency.
Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, ramped up enforcement of the longstanding “public charge” rule that bars anyone from getting a green card and permanent residence who is likely to depend on Medicaid, food stamps or housing vouchers. Biden reversed this policy.
Countries with smart immigration policies — Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom — have point systems giving preference to educated immigrants with language and job skills.
In contrast, two-thirds of legal immigrants to the U.S. get a green card based solely on having a family member here, whether they can support themselves or not.
It’s no wonder that a staggering 55% of households headed by an immigrant who has not yet attained citizenship use at least one welfare program, according to Census Bureau data.
Biden’s proposed immigration “reform” actually loosens the standards for family-based migration even more, never mind the impact on taxpayers and city social services.
And here’s the wackiest legal immigration program: the diversity lottery. Fifty thousand immigrants from “underrepresented nations” are literally admitted randomly every year. Biden wants to expand that. Canada is recruiting Ph.Ds. Biden is prioritizing diversity.
Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) introduced a bill on Nov. 24 to establish a point system or “skills-based approach” here. Americans tired of supporting the strangers coming to their shores, when their own neighbors need help, should support this bill. That includes New York Democrats such as Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries — a New Yorker — charges that Republican reform plans, including deterring illegal migration, are “anchored in xenophobia.” Wrong. They’re anchored in survival.
Unless the U.S. acts to shut down illegal migration and reform legal immigration to favor self-sufficiency, New York and other cities face even tougher days ahead.
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Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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